Even if you’ve previously dreaded the logistics of traveling, a year of stay-at-home orders has most of us excited to hop on a plane to, well, anywhere. And while figuring out what to pack usually means focusing on clothes, shoes and other accessories, your beauty routine should be top of mind too: Whether you’re hitting the road of jumping on a flight, your skin can become more susceptible to irritation, including dryness, breakouts or fun flare-ups brought on by stress — especially if you’re headed to a different climate.
“Dehydration is the name of the game when I travel — from the plane to hot spa showers (guilty) to beachside hangs (definitely guilty), my skin needs all the hydration help it can get,” says Samantha Leal, the managing editor at Well+Good who also covers travel. “I’m also prone to acne and skin irritation, so that’s always a concern for me when it comes to encountering new surfaces and locations. In short: I touch my face a lot.”
Khalea Underwood, a beauty editor turned editorial manager at MAC Cosmetics, seconds that: “Cabin air is notoriously dehydrating, so I always look for skin care products that replenish along with topical spot treatments that help me zap any pesky breakouts,” says Underwood. “No matter what time of day my flight is, I tend to do my nighttime skin care routine beforehand, as I use a heavier moisturizer while I’m sleeping. Sometimes I’ll even throw on a sleeping mask instead of a moisturizer, especially for international flights.”
And while size is often the main concern — TSA still requires all liquids be under 3 ounces in any carry-on bags — freelance writer Lauren Hubbard says to consider a product’s packaging too. “The last thing you want is something that might leak everywhere or take up all of the space in your bag,” she says. “For me, that means favoring creams and gels (or better yet, sticks!) over oils and serums, or single-serve packaging that keeps the products contained and ingredients at their prime.”
Olivia Lopez, a writer and travel expert who hosts the podcast “The Art of Travel” and runs Bon Weekender, a travel journal, says her pre-travel beauty routine starts on the inside. “Before a long-haul flight I increase my water intake, as planes are extremely dehydrating,” she says.
Here’s exactly what’s on five editors’ and travel experts’ beauty packing lists, including a juicy lip mask, a pair of hydrating eye patches to wear on the plane and the sunscreen stick that has one editor in love.
Lanolips Peach 101 Ointment Multi-Balm
“This dense, lanolin-based balm is obviously great for keeping lips soft, but it’s just as effective for dabbing on cuticles and any other dry spots you may develop on the go,” says Hubbard. “It comes in half a dozen varieties, including a fragrance-free one, but I’m particularly partial to this juicy peach fragrance.”
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
“I never go anywhere without sunscreen, and this truly clear, velvety gel is my go-to,” says Hubbard. “It’s invisible, feels light on the skin and leaves a satiny finish like a primer with extra protection.”
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
“A mini pot of this balm cleanser can cut through everything from dirt and sweat to waterproof mascara without stripping the moisture from your skin,” says Hubbard.
Elizabeth Arden Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum
“Vitamin C is an everyday must for its ability to fight free radicals and battle dark spots, especially essential if you’re going somewhere sunny,” says Hubbard. “These capsules keep the serum fresh by preventing oxidation, and you don’t have to worry about spills; just pop a few in your overnight bag and you’re set.”
111Skin The Hydration Concentrate
“These pre-dosed ampoules are like a big gulp of water for your skin, and their easy-to-pack size means you don’t need a whole bottle of moisturizer taking up space in your bag,” says Hubbard.
Dr. Dennis Gross
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel
“To keep my glow going when I’m away from home, I rely on these presoaked peel pads to exfoliate away dullness and clogged pores,” says Hubbard.
Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick
“I swipe this everywhere when I’m in the sun and it’s perfect to throw in a travel bag,” says Leal. “It’s ocean-friendly too!”
Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream
“I love all things Tatcha and this little mini I keep in my purse/bag to slather myself with on a flight multiple times,” says Leal.
Good Molecules Caffeine Energizing Hydrogel Eye Patches
“Super affordable, super hydrating, throw it in your bag and use till you run out — or at least that’s what I do,” says Leal. “There are 30 pairs (!!!) and they’re layered on top of each other, so you’ll get good use out of this one container. Also definitely an upgrade from opening a package of single-use ones every flight. (And yes, I do use these on the plane).”
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
“I’ve been using this cream for years and keep one in my travel bag always,” says Leal. “It’s the perfect cream, as your skin soaks it right up, and it’s super light but deeply moisturizing. I use it before applying sunscreen at the beach, before bed as a sleeping mask and as a regular ol’ moisturizer.”
Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick
“I never want to be anywhere without my Merit Minimalist Complexion Stick, which is the base makeup I put on to go grab a coffee or hop on a Zoom call,” says Alyssa Coscarelli, a brand consultant who travels often for her job. “I love that it blends so well and melts in like a second skin.”
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
“So many ChapSticks just don’t really do it for me, but I find that if I apply this lip sleeping mask every night before I go to bed, I hardly ever deal with chapped lips,” says Coscarelli. And Leal agrees: “It’s a cult favorite for a reason, and I love it and I will love it forever,” she jokes. “No, but really I can use it to keep my lips soft — overnight or during the day — as well as layered on top of a lip color for a glossy sheen.”
Furtuna Visione Di Luce Skin Eye Revitalizing Cream
“I really love a brand called Furtuna Skin, which formulates a lot of rare and natural ingredients from the owner’s organic farm in Sicily,” says Lopez. “This eye cream is very plumping and moisturizing.”
Chanel Hydra Beauty Camellia Repair Mask
“I love this cream because it locks in moisture and defends skin,” says Lopez. “I like the sheen of the finish after application too. I massage this into my skin for five minutes, which helps the skin deeply absorb the ingredients.”
Aesop Avail Facial Lotion With SPF 25
“UV ray exposure is higher on a plane, so I apply a generous amount of sunscreen through my hands, neck and face,” says Lopez. “I love Aesop’s sunscreen; it’s super sheer, scented with a natural aroma and feels really supple on the skin.”
Lesse Regeneration Mist
“I’m obsessed with this face mist by my friend’s line Lesse,” says Lopez. “The mist itself smells fantastic and has ingredients like aloe, chamomile and jojoba, which is formulated to smooth and repair skin while taking down inflammation.”
Sisley Paris Velvet Sleeping Mask
“This is a beautiful mask that almost translates as a heavy moisturizer,” says Underwood. “Gives me a nice and radiant dew, even after being wedged in an economy window seat.”
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist
“I keep this stuff on my desk to refresh my makeup, but this also works as an on-the-go hydrator if my moisturizer decides to stop doing its thing,” says Underwood.
AcneFree Severe Acne Spot Treatment Terminator 10
“I’ll always sing the praises of this spot treatment, which shrinks my blemishes in record time due to the benzoyl peroxide in the formula,” says Underwood.
Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks
“These help brighten my under-eyes, since I tend stay up all night packing until the very last minute,” says Underwood.
Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Body Lotion
“I can’t neglect my body skin either,” says Underwood. “This balm feels fantastic after a long, luxurious, wipe-the-ick-away hotel shower.”